How to Make Layers in GIMP

My screencast is a beginner level introduction on how to open images and edit layers within the free-to-use photo manipulation application GIMP. I introduce how to open files within GIMP as well as reviewing how to create, merge, delete, and edit new layers. The use of layers in photo manipulation programs allows us to edit individual parts of photos without accidentally editing the entire image. This gives a lot of editing freedom for adding color, inserting new photographs, and creating seamless photo creations.  By using layers, we can experiment with how we want to edit photos without making any unchangeable edits. Instead of having to undo anything we decide we don’t like, we can simply delete, merge, and edit the layers we are working with. We can change colors, lighting, and insert numerous photos without hurting any finalized changes we’ve already made to our project.

GIMP is a free-to-use photoshop-esque program that I’ve used for my personal art for years. It’s amazing for editing photography and digital art. The website is informative and offers links to download the program.

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The first video below is my personal introduction. The second video is the screencast. I decided to use two separate videos because I felt that having full visibility of the screen in GIMP is critical for understanding the program and didn’t want my face to be in your way!


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Cat

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How to Cosplay

Cosplay is a performance art hobby in which people dress up like characters from pop culture.

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Image from here.

Sounds weird, right? Kind of like an anytime, anywhere form of Halloween?

But it’s fun. The hobby has seen a huge increase in popularity since the 1990s, and has a lot of participants who utilize Patreon, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook to connect with fans. Cosplayers are often featured as models and can travel all over the world selling art, being featured as speakers at conventions, and doing photo shoots.

For a short introduction to the world of cosplay, I recommend Syfy’s “Heroes of Cosplay.” There’s also a variety of books and magazines about the world of cosplay.

But for short, it’s a fun opportunity to learn costuming and design, while also having fun showing your love for a favorite book, television show, movie, or video game. Here, I have a short list to help you get started on your own cosplay!

        1. Find a pop culture media that you love
          This can be a TV show, a movie, a video game, a book, or a character inspired by whatever inspires you! Some people do album art, comedians, and original character designs for cosplays.

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          Netflix is always my go to for new shows and movies.

          Photo courtesy of tivo.com.

           

        2. Research your favorite character!
          Sites like wikis exist for most pop culture media, full of fan-collected information on characters, setting, costume design. Art books of popular movies, television shows, and comic books are also featured in most main chain book stores, and are full of information on the creation of setting, costuming, and character design. Some companies also release character designs that make it super easy for cosplayers to look at and design accordingly.

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          Hiccup’s character design from the How to Train Your Dragon artbook.

          Photo courtesy of ilchiaroscuro.com.

           

        3. Analyze your skill level
          This is all personal! This step is important. Can you sew? Have you crafted before? Can you knit? Woodwork? Engineer?
          Crafting skills are important for cosplay and it is important to analyze your personal skill level to decide how much you can do on your own. Some cosplayers buy costumes made by other people, and some people make everything by hand!
          Sites like Etsy and Ebay make it easy to find costumes, weapons, and accessories to buy if you don’t think you can make things on your own! The internet is also an amazing source of information to help you learn to sew, craft, and design!
          Book series like “The Costume Making Guide” are great help for learning the aspects of cosplay!

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          Analyze your personal skill level.

          Photo courtesy of Sewing Divas.

           

        4. Finance
          Analyze your personal finances. Can you afford materials? Figure out how much money you need for wigs, makeup, costume parts, cloth, crafting supplies. Or, in the case of buying a cosplay, make sure you finance correctly to afford all of the parts of your costume.
          Another part of financing is also tickets and lodging for any events you plan to wear your cosplay to!
          There’s an amazing free Android application called Cosplanner that helps you list the parts of individual cosplays including financing details and progress tracking.

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          Some of my financing done in Cosplanner.

        5. Time Manage
          When do you plan to wear your cosplay? The hardest thing about cosplaying is the urge to procrastinate. It’s very easy to get threatened by your project and to leave it until the last minute.
          I personally recommend the use of a bullet journal. I use my bullet journal to track my work schedule, school schedule, and to organize which parts of my cosplay I need finished by when. This is an amazing bullet journal tutorial that I highly recommend.

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          A bullet journal example page.

          Photo courtesy of bohoberry.

          Keep in mind that a bullet journal isn’t the only option. Research time managing techniques until you find one that works for you!

        6. Craft away!
          Start from the base and work up. This means start with the main costume and then move onto accessories and details. Detail work can be time consuming and you will get sucked into it, so it’s best to organize the base of the costume first.
          Either buy the main part of your costume or work on sewing it. Find a wig. Buy shoes.
          After getting the base organized, move onto props and weapons. Find the identifying traits of your character and work on these. Props are often the funnest and most threatening part of any cosplay, since it can make or break your character design.
          After getting your prop and weapon sorted out, go ahead and focus on the details. The details are what make your cosplay different from any other cosplay of that character. Detailing is very fun and feel free to put your own spin on the character design. Here’s where you fall in love with your costume.

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          Cut outs for a sword design.

          Image from this video tutorial.

           

        7. Wear it and have fun!
          Wear your cosplay to an event or just for the heck of it. Wear it for school spirit week, a party, a convention, or a photoshoot. Own all your hard work!

Cosplay can give wake to a lot of new opportunities in the form of adventures, friends, and skills. My personal experience with cosplay has been amazing, and I hope these steps help you get started on yours as well.

7 Ultimate Study-Time Playlists for College Students

Focusing on school work is hard. It’s a challenge that involves drafting your own schedules, managing your own time, balancing work/school/social life. I honestly struggle with everything on my plate. I do a great job of setting goals and timelines to get my work done, and do an even better job of stressing so much that I ruin my timeline and spend a week doing nothing but watching the entirety Parks and Rec on Netflix for the third time.

One of the biggest motivational pushes for me has been the music I listen to while I study, and I’m going to share a few of the playlists with you. I find my biggest inspiration in OST’s from movies, shows, and games, so my playlists are going to feature my favorite soundtracks. Soundtracks always help me study since they have a general sense of progression that always makes me feel like I’m proceeding and succeeding as well as giving me the general feeling of being the most important person ever. I love having my own battle music while I study.

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1. Furi

Furi is an all-boss combat game for PC and Playstation made by the GameBakers. It features beautiful art, amazing character design, and gameplay. It also features one of the most beautiful gaming soundtracks I’ve ever heard. It’s a mix of instrumental and industrial, and motivates me to study like I’m about to walk into my life’s biggest boss battle. You can listen to the whole soundtrack on a playlist on Youtube.

2. Westworld

Westworld is a mess of an HBO show, which is honestly how I’d describe any HBO shows. It’s story line is insane and had me simultaneously angry and on the edge of my seat every week. The show has a phenomenal soundtrack featuring instrumental western covers of some modern day songs like “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden and “Paint it Black”  by The Rolling Stones. Ramin Djawadi is the mastermind behind this amazing soundtrack and you can listen to it here. 

3. Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is a Playstation2 game from 2005 with a cult following. The sequel/spin-off The Last Guardian just came out for PS4. The soundtrack features mellow, instrumental themes, with beautiful motifs and flowing sound. It’s perfectly peaceful and uplifting. The entire soundtrack by Kou Otani is here.

4. Stranger Things

Stranger Things is a Netflix original sci-fi series with an awesome soundtrack. The soundtrack is very synth-industrial, and all instrumental. The soundtrack does an amazing job of making me feel like I’m living a story. It’s ethereal and otherworldly, and I’m mesmerized by the sound. Listen here.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

So, I love How to Train Your Dragon. I saw it nine times in theaters, bought the dvd the second it came out, and my house is covered in merchandise. I even have a tattoo planned. John Powell does a mind blowing job on the soundtrack. The soundtrack is very upbeat, with billowing lows and highs, and makes me feel like I’m literally soaring around on a dragon. Way better than doing homework, but motivational enough to make me do my homework. Youtube playlist is here. 

6. Undertale

Undertale wins the spot for my favorite video game. It’s an 8-bit PC adventure game created by Toby Fox that won my heart. It’s cute, heartwarming, uplifting, and can also destroy your soul if you let it. The soundtrack is very retro/gaming, with techno/synth vibes. It builds the world of Undertale and also gets stuck in your head very easily. I could very easily listen to Spear of Justice or Megalovania on repeat forever. The soundtrack can be found here.

7. Mad Max: Fury Road

This soundtrack is a bit heavier, with Inception-esque sounds and hard battle sequences, but I love it. It makes me feel like I’m fighting battles and racing across desolate, apocalyptic lands. It fires me up, makes me feel like I’m ready to take on anything. It’s haunting and mesmerizing. The soundtrack can be found here.

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Studying is made a little easier with these amazing soundtracks to back me up. I stuck to instrumental themed songs, since words and lyrics can be distracting. I also featured a variety of more mellow soundtracks and heavier soundtracks to create a good mix of different kinds of uplifting music. I hope these help you guys focus and study to your heart’s extent!